Tokyo 2020 - Green jersey winner Mark Cavendish loving life since 2021 Tour de France heroics
“It’s kind of hard to settle back in. You’re in this bubble for three weeks and now it’s getting back to normality, just trying to do that. " Mark Cavendish is part of the Eurosport commentary team for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after his star performance in the Tour de France. You want it? We have it. Stream every Olympic event live on discovery+.
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“It’s kind of hard to settle back in. You’re in this bubble for three weeks and now it’s getting back to normality, just trying to do that.
“I’m racing again next week in the Tour of Denmark so I’m back to training – I had a few days off the bike and now it’s back to the day job.”
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This is the first Olympic Games since 2004 that Cavendish hasn’t attended as an athlete.
And the Deceuninck – QuickStep rider says he is relishing the opportunity to watch the coverage.
“Obviously I was at Beijing, London and Rio, so it’s been a long time since I wasn’t in that bubble,” he said.
“And to be able to watch as a spectator, not just the cycling but all sports, it’s been brilliant.
“It’s been an exciting Olympics – it’s a year overdue so everyone’s excited for it.”
Cycling legend Cavendish joins Discovery's Tokyo 2020 track cycling coverage
Image credit: Eurosport
Cavendish’s most high-profile successes have come on the road, but the Manxman has an impressive track CV too, winning three World Championship gold medals in the Madison and picking up an Omnium silver medal at the Rio Olympics.
And, having experienced the difficulties of juggling road and track aspirations, Cavendish is well-placed to explain the brilliance of Filippo Ganna, who anchored Italy to team pursuit gold on Wednesday.
“Italy have come in and been spectacular, especially with Ganna – he rode the road time trial remember, he’s reigning time trial world champion,” Cavendish said.
“It didn’t quite go how he wanted it to (in the TT), but he’s come straight off the road to ride the track.
It’s two different sports. Okay, they’re both wheels and pedals and a saddle, but fair play to Ganna, he’s doing full kilometres on the front and still lifting the pace. It’s an absolute joy.
Cavendish has also attended an Olympics midway through a road season, and says that Ganna’s adaptation to the boards is a remarkable achievement
“In 2016 I rode the Tour de France but had to stop halfway because I wouldn’t have had enough of time to adapt to the track, and then I flew to Rio. Even that was on the limit.
“Elia Viviani, who’s riding here, he beat me in the omnium, he got gold and I got silver. And he stopped his road season in May to prepare, so three months before.
“Brad had stopped a year and a half before, that’s what you usually need for team pursuit.”
The British cycling squad are yet to win a gold on the track in Tokyo, with both the men's sprint team and women's pursuit team settling for silver.
But Cavendish says that the lack of golds isn't a sign of Team GB losing their touch.
"GB aren’t in decline, the rest of the world is stepping up," he said.
"Great Britain were always the pioneers in new technologies and advancements to make the sport quicker. But as you advance the amount of things you can do get smaller, you can’t get the big gains you used to.
The rest of the world are coming up. The speed that all of these nations are going at, it blows your mind.
"The women’s (team pursuit) world record now, in Athens that’s what the men were doing. That’s crazy. You’re talking 23-30% quicker times, it’s a different sport now.
"Team Pursuit almost isn’t an endurance ride any more, it’s a sprint sport," Cavendish added.
"There used to be bunch riders coming in and doing the pursuit.
Now you have four or five men and women dedicated for four years to just these four kilometres. And that’s why it’s moved so far.
"If you’re in the velodrome you can see the speeds they are doing, you don’t quite get the sense of it on television."
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